Cormac Pearson previews what could be the game of the round, as Suncorp Stadium hosts two teams looking to rebound and cement their spots in September.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
It was a stunning Damien Cook tackle stopping a rampaging Corey Oates that took victory from Brisbane’s grasp last Friday against South Sydney. But this week Anthony Seibold’s Broncos will be vying to make sure their spot in the top eight remains as they make their move forward into September. Currently sitting eighth on 23 points, every game is crucial with the Tigers and Panthers breathing down their necks. Depending on other results, a win could just about guarantee finals football, but the determined Eels won’t be moving out of the way.
Brad Arthur’s Parramatta missed a big opportunity to crack the top four after a gritty contest against a valiant Bulldogs caused the upset of the round. There’s still a small chance Parramatta can sneak into the top four and potentially end up in third, but if they lose the next two rounds, they could find themselves as low as seventh. A win this week guarantees them a home elimination final and keeps their top four hopes alive.
Anthony Seibold has kept his faith in the side that went down to the Rabbitohs in a nail-biter last week. Jake Turpin remains suspended for one more week with young half Sean O’Sullivan to lead the dangerous Brisbane pack around the park.
Brisbane Broncos’ squad: 1. Anthony Milford 5. Jamayne Isaako 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Alex Glenn 2. Corey Oates 6. Darius Boyd 7. Sean O’Sullivan 8. Matthew Lodge 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Payne Haas 11. David Fifita 12. Matt Gillett 13. Joe Ofahengaue 14. James Segeyaro 15. Thomas Flegler 16. Gehamat Shibasaki 17. Patty Carrigan 18. Rhys Kennedy 19. Izaia Perese 20. Herbie Farnworth 21. Fanitesi Niu.
Parramatta fans rejoice, star winger Blake Ferguson returns this week in a mouth-watering battle against fellow big man Corey Oates. Brad Takairangi will move to the bench. Nathan Brown’s off-the-ball antics have placed him in the sheds this week, with Marata Niukore stepping into the back of the scrum. Peni Terepo replaces Tepai Moeroa on the bench.
Parramatta Eels’ squad: 1. Clint Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Michael Jennings 4. Waqa Blake 5. Blake Ferguson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Kane Evans 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Manu Ma’u 13. Marata Niukore 14. Peni Terepo 15. David Gower 16. Daniel Alvaro 17. Brad Takairangi 18. Tepai Moeroa 19. Ray Stone 20. Stefano Utoikamanu 21. Josh Hoffman.
HEAD TO HEAD
There is a lot on the line this Friday night and you can prepare for a physical, exciting brand of rugby league at Suncorp. A big crowd is expected as Brisbane’s young guns continue to show the bright future of the club, while Parramatta look to prove the critics wrong. Some opportunities went begging last week for the blue and gold and you can be sure Brad Arthur will be using this game as a prequel to September.
Currently Brisbane and Parramatta are deadlocked at 20 wins a piece from 40 games, with their last meeting resulting in a one-sided affair. Parramatta put Brisbane to the sword, scoring 7 tries to 2 in Round 14 this year. Parramatta had 500 metres more in run metres with Moses lapping up 2 try assists in a dominant performance. Brisbane are a much different side than they were in round 14, so you can bet your bottom dollar this one will be vital viewing.
It will be the battle of the custodians on Friday night as King Gutho and his men attempt to invade Milf’s Lang Park. Now in the latter end of his seventh season it’s easy to forget that Anthony Milford is only 25.
In what has seemed like a quieter year for the dangerous and versatile back, he has still managed 5 tries, 11 try assists and 18 forced dropouts. Round 14 against the Eels was the catalyst for his move back to fullback from six. The move has given Milford the chance to utilise his natural and dangerous running game while still doing the majority of the kicking. Milford has the ability to create points from anywhere and has been building all year with the young forward pack around him. The playmaking fullback plays a similar way to his opposite and it will be a battle worth keeping an eye on.
The 24-year-old Gutherson plays with passion, smarts and natural talent. Captaining his side from the back has seemed to only help his game as the custodian has had one of his best years yet. With seven tries, seven line-breaks and nine try assists, he and Moses’ connection has been a big part of the Eels’ success. The crafty number one will be bursting out of the blocks after a fairly quiet game last week. Gutherson needs to get his men back into form before finals and keep them level headed. The return of Fergo will aid him coming out of the back and you can be sure his partnership with Moses will be on show.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday August 30th, 2019.
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 7:55pm, AEST.
Referee: Ashley Klein and Peter Gough
WHO WILL WIN?
This has a sort of finals feel to it, so expect it to be played that way, although the home ground advantage and recent form from the Broncos will carry them to a tight win.
Broncos by seven.